Polish weightlifting team in training (Late 1970s)

Today we present some outstanding vintage documentary footage of Eastern European strength training, showing the Polish weightlifting team’s exercise regimen. During the Cold War era, Eastern European countries tended to dominate in international strength sports competitions. This video is a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into their training methods. The video reel, posted on the “Goodfoot101” Youtube channel, appears to be from the late 1970s, as it includes footage from the 1977 World Weightlifting Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. While somewhat outside the particular era generally covered here at FOUNDATIONS OF IRON, this is still a great showcase of old-school strength training.

As seen in this vintage footage, training for Olympic-style lifting involves much more than simply practicing the Olympic lifts themselves. Continue reading

How are your “External Obliques?” – Bob Hoffman (1940)

The text featured below consists of excerpts from an article by York Barbell founder Bob Hoffman, which originally appeared in the August 1940 issue of his monthly magazine “Strength and Health.” For the sake of brevity, only a few segments from the long and verbose (and often repetitive) original article could be included here.

GrimekOneHandLiftYork Barbell star John Grimek performing a one-handed lift. Click to enlarge (will open in new window/tab).

Hoffman generally promoted Olympic-style weightlifting as the primary modality for exercising with weights, rather than bodybuilding with cosmetic purposes as the primary objective, and his focus is quite evident in this article. Continue reading

The Apparatus Needed – Michael Fallon (1960)

The text below is from another weight training manual to come out of English physical culture, Michael Fallon and Jim Saunders’ Muscle Building for Beginners (1960). This pocket-sized paperback book is focused on training for physique development. The book is divided into two sections. Part I, by Michael Fallon, is an overview of the field of physique training, including tips on gaining and losing weight through nutritional changes. Part II, by Mr. Universe, Class II Jim Saunders, features more specific information on training muscle groupings such as arms, chest, back, etc.

FallonSaundersMuscleBuildingBook cover: click image to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab) Continue reading

Principles of weight training – George W. Kirkley (1963)

Welcome to FOUNDATIONS OF IRON! We hope that this site will provide insight on physical culture and weight training for strength and physique as practiced decades ago, and that this online archive will continue to grow over the coming years.

We begin with an introductory text. The following excerpt, entitled “Principles of weight training,” is the first chapter of Weightlifting and Weight Training, by George W. Kirkley (1963). This paperback volume was a very good introduction to lifting weights for strength, physique, general athletics, and for the sport of competitive Olympic weightlifting. Among other credentials, Kirkley was senior coach of the British Amateur Weightlifters’ Association, and he had decades of experience in the field. However, little other information seems to be readily available on Kirkley himself. The text below gives excellent reasons to engage in this activity, and presents a basic overview of how to go about lifting weights.

KirkleyWeightLiftingBook cover: click image to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab)

Book excerpt: Continue reading